With offices in more than 40 countries, Finpro needed ways to improve productivity and cut costs. By using the DirectAccess and BranchCache™ features in Windows Server® 2008 R2 and Windows® 7, employees can save as much as a third of their workweek through faster, trouble-free network access and downloads. Finpro also expects to save U.S.$45,000 a year by eliminating its virtual private network and to cut system administration time in half by simplifying its infrastructure.
Helsinki-based Finpro is an association that seeks export opportunities mainly for small and midsize Finnish companies. To find those opportunities, about 250 employees work from 52 trade centers located in more than 40 countries. They collaborate with each other and with another 100 employees at the headquarters and seven other offices in Finland. On average, about 20 percent of the organization’s work force travels on any given workday.
||With Windows Server 2008 R2, we can simplify our system management and save about half the time compared to how we managed our network before.
For such a distributed enterprise as Finpro, effective information management, access, and security are critical to its productivity and ultimate success. But according to Finpro IT Manager Jarmo Jonninen, delivering on these requirements is a challenge.
Remote employees access the network through a virtual private network (VPN) using tokens that display a passcode that changes every 60 seconds. The logon process is cumbersome for users and often requires IT assistance. “We have to synchronize those tokens frequently, sometimes daily,” Jonninen says. “Then, if any users fail at using a token’s passcode, they have to wait a minute for the next available code.” Also, if they lose their tokens, they lose remote access until they can get more tokens from the headquarters.
Large file transfers are also an issue. “We require everyone to save everything to our document management system servers,” Jonninen says. “Presentations can be as large as 20 megabytes, and it can take hours for someone to download needed information through our intranet.” He notes that searching for this information is time-consuming as well because the information is stored on servers in eight locations.
Finpro is seeking to improve efficiency and simplify the management of its IT infrastructure, which consists of 90 server computers, including 42 domain controllers. “My goal is to give users tools to make their work easier and more productive, while making system maintenance easier and faster,” says Jonninen.
In May 2009, Finpro began working with its IT outsourcing partner Appelsiini Finland to develop a plan to upgrade from the Windows Server® 2003 operating system to the latest release, Windows Server 2008 R2. The plan included upgrading employees’ portable computers to the Windows® 7 operating system.
Finpro was interested in new features such as DirectAccess and BranchCache™, which are available in both Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. With DirectAccess, remote employees can access corporate resources like e-mail servers, shared folders, and intranet sites directly over the Internet, without using a VPN. DirectAccess employs Internet Protocol security for authentication and encryption. Using the BranchCache feature, Finpro can store often-downloaded content at a remote site, either on users’ computers or on a dedicated server. Because users can access content locally instead of through a wide area network (WAN), they can avoid long download times. WAN utilization is also reduced.
Finpro also wanted users to benefit from the Search Federation feature in Windows 7, which they can use to locate content across Finpro and partner sites. In addition, the organization will take advantage of BitLocker™ and BitLocker To Go™ in Windows 7 to help protect against unauthorized data access on portable computers and USB storage devices that are lost or stolen.
Finpro is also simplifying management with the Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) option in Windows Server 2008 R2, a feature that was first made available in Windows Server 2008. An RODC hosts read-only partitions of the Active Directory® Domain Services database and will cache only the passwords that have been configured. As a result, routine maintenance of RODCs can be performed at remote sites by local employees instead of administrators.
Finpro expects to deploy the new solution across the organization by June 2010.
Finpro will use the features in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 to save employees time, cut costs, and simplify network management and support.
- Improved employee productivity. With DirectAccess, Jonninen says, employees can save up to two hours a week in time that is not spent logging on to a VPN or troubleshooting their VPN difficulties with the help desk. He also estimates that the faster information access provided by BranchCache will help each employee save as much as 10 hours a week. Those savings add up to almost one-third of a 40-hour workweek for Finpro employees. In addition, he estimates that Search Federation could save employees more than an hour a week.
- Cost savings. By using DirectAccess, Jonninen says, Finpro can save about U.S.$45,000 a year by eliminating its VPN and related hardware, software, licensing, and other charges. He expects features in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 to also help reduce calls to its outsourced help desk by more than two-thirds. “Our help desk fields about 500 calls a month,” Jonninen says. “We see that dropping to about 150 calls a month with the new solution. The time and resources saved can be used to optimize our IT infrastructure further.”
- Simplified system management. With Active Directory in Windows Server 2008 R2, Finpro can reduce the number of writable domain controllers from 42 to 12 and use RODCs at many of its remote sites. Also, it can use fewer instances of Microsoft® Exchange Server, which also run on the 42 domain controllers. With the new solution, Finpro will need to run Exchange Server on only 9 servers. “That is one big benefit that will make managing the network much easier,” Jonninen says. “With Windows Server 2008 R2, we can simplify our system management and save about half the time compared to how we managed our network before.”
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest version of the Windows Server operating system from Microsoft. With Windows Server 2008 R2, you can create solutions that are easier to plan, deploy, and manage than with previous versions of Windows Server. Building on the features, security, reliability, and performance provided by Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 extends connectivity and control to local and remote resources. This means that your organization can benefit from reduced costs and increased efficiencies gained through enhanced management and control over resources across the enterprise.
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Built on the Windows Vista® foundation, Windows 7 will help make users productive anywhere, enhance security and control, and streamline PC management. The investments in Windows 7 are shaped by the evolving needs of end users and IT professionals in the enterprise. Users are becoming more computer-savvy and expect more from the technology they use at work. They expect to be able to work from home, from branch offices, and on the road with the same level of productivity. As user needs have changed, the demands on IT professionals have increased. Today, IT professionals must provide more capability and greater flexibility for users while continuing to minimize cost and security risks.
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This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Document published October 2009